You can find detailed information about Mars Inc., manufacturer of Pedigree dog food, in our full Pedigree dog food review. There you will also find information about how the food is made, recalls, the manufacturing process and their quality control measures.
The Pedigree brand includes dry and canned foods as well as treats and snacks. They also produce foods that are targeted for oral care, hip and joint health, weight control, and other health concerns. Like many other brands, they divide their foods by age – adult, puppy, and senior foods; and by the size of the dog – small, medium, large breed.
In the marketplace, Pedigree is an old, established brand and it is sold in grocery stores. It can be found nearly anywhere pet foods are sold. It is priced to fit lower budgets.
Ingredients in Pedigree Active Nutrition Dog Food
Ground whole corn, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal,meat and bone meal, animal fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), chicken, brewers rice, peas, dried plain beet pulp,ground whole wheat, natural flavor, salt, potassium chloride,vegetable oil ([source of linoleic acid] preserved with BHA/BHT),carrots, vitamins (choline chloride, a-tocopherol acetate [source of vitamin E], niacin, biotin, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement [vitamin B2], pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin a supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate [vitamin B1], vitamin D3 supplement), minerals (zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, potassium iodide), added FD & C colors (red 40, yellow 5, blue 2)
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
The first five ingredients in this food are: Ground whole corn, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, meat and bone meal, animal fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid).
This food is described as Pedigree’s high protein food and it does have a slightly higher protein percentage than other Pedigree kibbles we have reviewed. However, the protein sources are similar to those in other Pedigree foods: corn, poultry by-product meal, and meat and bone meal. We do note the addition of chicken here. The food also contains peas which are commonly used as a protein source in dog food.
As with other Pedigree foods, the first ingredient in this food is ground yellow corn. Since pet food ingredients have to be listed in order of weight before cooking, this indicates that ground yellow corn is the predominant ingredient in the food. You will also notice that the second ingredient is corn gluten meal, a concentrated form of protein from corn. This means there is a lot of corn in this food.
Corn isn’t a “bad” ingredient but it’s a plant protein and dogs can’t digest it as well as meat protein. Ground yellow corn has about 54 percent protein for your dog and corn gluten meal has about 60 percent protein. But animal proteins like chicken, beef, and fish have much higher amounts of protein and they are easier for your dog to digest. Corn also contains a lot of carbohydrates and a lot of it will be passed as waste for you to scoop.
In addition, if your dog is prone to allergies, corn is one of the ingredients most likely to trigger an allergic reaction or a food intolerance. Most dogs can eat corn in dog food without any problem but if your dog is part of the 10 percent of dogs who do have food allergies, you will want to be careful about foods that might trigger an allergic reaction.
You may have heard corn gluten meal discussed in 2007 with the pet food recalls when it was one of the ingredients tainted with melamine (especially in South Africa). This was an aberration. Corn gluten meal is used in animal feeds all the time and it is normally safe. There are issues with its use when it is used in dog food because it doesn’t have the same bioavailability as meat proteins, but it won’t harm your dog.
The third ingredient in the food is poultry by-product meal. This means that the ingredient can be any kind of poultry. This is better than the generic “meat” or animal” but it is not as good as identifying the ingredient as chicken, for example. Poultry by-product meal means, according to AAFCO: “the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.” So, it does include chicken necks, feet, and other parts. If you’re interested, you can read about the differences between poultry meal and poultry by-product meal here. Your dog probably won’t mind eating these poultry parts but they are considered to be less desirable than the meaty parts of poultry you would eat yourself.
The fourth ingredient, listed by weight, and so likely to be present in a large percentage, is meat and bone meal. This is a single ingredient and it’s another source of meat protein. In fact, it can contain 45 to 50 percent protein which is why it’s often used in dog food. It boosts the protein percentage in the food. However, it’s generally considered a lesser quality ingredient. The definition for this ingredient is: “the dried and rendered product from mammal tissues. It does not contain horn, hair, hide trimmings, manure, stomach contents, added blood meal or poultry by-products, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.” Meat and bone meal can come from any kind of animal. It’s used in lots of animal feeds but it’s usually considered a lower quality ingredient when it’s used in dog foods.
The fifth ingredient is Animal Fat (Preserved with BHA and Citric Acid). Animal fat is a good ingredient in pet foods, though it’s better when it is a named fat source, such as chicken fat. It’s also good when it is preserved with a natural preservative such as citric acid. However, it’s bad when fat is preserved with an artificial preservative like BHA. BHA is butylated hydroxyanisole and it has been linked to cancer and seizures. Fats in pet foods always have to be preserved with something. Otherwise the food would go rancid very quickly. But natural preservatives are preferable, even though they are weaker preservatives and do not preserve the food as long. If you are buying foods preserved with natural preservatives, be sure to look for foods with Sell By or Best Used By dates that are current.
Thoughts About The First 5 Ingredients
The first five ingredients in this food indicate that it relies on plant protein (corn), although it does contain meat protein in the form of poultry by-product meal and meat and bone meal. It also contains animal fat and an artificial preservative. These are considered average dog food ingredients. The ingredient of most concern here is the artificial preservative BHA. However, if your dog has any problems eating corn or grain in general, you will need to avoid this food.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
There are some other ingredients to be concerned about in the remaining ingredients.
The seventh ingredient isbrewers rice. AAFCO defines brewers rice as: “the dried extracted residue of rice resulting from the manufacture of wort (liquid portion of malted grain) or beer and may contain pulverized dried spent hops in an amount not to exceed 3 percent.” It’s the small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the bigger kernels of milled rice. And it’s missing many of the nutrients found in whole ground rice and brown rice. It is used exclusively in pet foods. So, don’t be misled into thinking that this is a nutritious form of rice for your dog. This is a carb filler and it’s a less desirable ingredient. Since this is the third ingredient in the food, it means there is a lot of this filler in the food.
The eighth ingredient is peas. Peas are a problematic ingredient in dog food for some dogs. Although they boost the protein percentage in food, containing about 24 percent protein, they are also a source of dietary fiber. Peas are not always easily digested by dogs and can result in increased waste and some gastrointestinal issues. They can also interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the food.
The food also contains ground whole wheat. This is basically wheat flour and it’s a filler in dog food. It’s also another source of carbohydrates. Wheat is also one of the most common triggers for dogs who are predisposed to allergic food reactions.
The food also contains “natural flavor.” This is a deceptive term that often indicates the presence of MSG or monosodium glutamate used for flavoring (read more here). This isn’t something that you generally want to add to your dog’s food unless you have a particular object in mind, such as discouraging your dog from eating his own poop. MSG is sometimes recommended as a supplement to make your dog’s waste taste bad to him so he won’t try to eat it. Otherwise, when a food has “natural flavor,” it usually has a lot of salt which isn’t good for your dog.
The food also contains vegetable oil ([source of linoleic acid] preserved with BHA/BHT). Vegetable oil sounds like a good ingredient but it can be recycled oil from other uses. This oil is also preserved with BHA and BHT which are artificial preservatives which have been linked to cancer in some studies.
The food also contains added colors and dyes which are problematic. There is never any good reason for adding artificial colors to your dog’s food. This is really only done to appeal to the consumer. Your dog doesn’t care what the food looks like. Some of these added colors have been linked to cancer and other serious illnesses.
The food does have some good points that should be mentioned. It containschelated minerals – minerals which have been bonded to proteins so they are easier for your dog to digest. This is usually found in better quality foods because they are more expensive for the companies to purchase and add them.
It contains chicken as the sixth ingredient. This is high enough in the ingredient list that it probably adds some nutrition for your dog. “Chicken” usually refers to whole chicken so it still contains moisture before cooking. This ingredient would be lower on the list if the moisture were removed. However, it’s still a good ingredient. Chicken is about 80 percent protein and it’s a good source of good source of Vitamin B6 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Niacin and Selenium.
The food also contains dried plain beet pulp which we count as a plus. This is not to be confused with red beets. Nor is it a source of sugar in the food. Dried plain beet pulp is an an excellent source of dietary fiber. It draws liquid into the gut and then provides good laxative effects for the dog. Unfortunately, some consumers have confused the beet pulp in food with red beets or they think this ingredient is a filler, which it’s not. It serves a useful purpose in many dog foods (read more).
We also note the presence of carrots in the food. Carrots are an excellent source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium.
- Crude Protein Min ………. 26%
- Crude Fat Min ………. 12%
- Crude Fiber Max ………. 4%
- Moisture Max ………. 12%
- Linoleic Acid (omega-6 Fatty Acids) Min ………. 2.5%
- Calcium Min ………. 1%
- Phosphorus Min ………. 0.8%
- Copper Min ………. 10 mg/kg
- Zinc Min ………. 200 mg/kg
- Vitamin E Min ………. 200 IU/kg
- Niacin Min ………. 200 mg/kg
- Pyridoxine Min ………. 30 mg/kg
Estimated approximately 300-350 calories per 8 oz measuring cup but we couldn’t find this information online.
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Pedigree Active Nutrition Dog Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth and maintenance.*
*This is an unusual nutritional adequacy statement. AAFCO has two nutritional adequacy levels: growth (for lactating bitches and growing puppies) ORmaintenance. Foods are usually one or the other. If a food meets both growth and maintenance requirements, the company will usually state that it is an “all life stages” food. The wording is curious here. It may or may not be significant.
Dry Matter Basis
On a dry matter basis, this food contains approximately 29.5 percent protein and 13.6 percent fat. This is a good protein percentage, especially for a grocery store kibble. Most experts also suggest that the protein percentage should be about double the fat percentage and you have close to that percentage here. Most of Pedigree’s foods have lower percentages of protein and fat. Much of the protein appears to be plant-based from corn so your dog may not digest it as well as meat protein. However, the food does contain meat protein in the form of chicken, poultry by-products, and meat & bone meal. Fiber makes up about 4.5 percent of the food which is typical of most kibbles. The food contains an estimated 43.2 percent carbohydrates which is similar to many other kibbles.
This is an average kibble with a slightly above average amount of protein. Most of the protein still appears to come from plant protein sources, however. We have concerns about the artificial preservatives, artificial dyes, and all of the filler ingredients used in the food.
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